Thursday 23 October 2008

Senior BBC editor accuses Osborne of concealment

BBC Political Editor Steve Mawhinney has been sent out to defend the actions of his reporters in covering the Osborne story. Trouble is, he makes the BBC look even more stupid and biased than the reporters did in their own coverage. It appears as if he has accepted his instructions from the spin doctors without actually reading the Nat Rothschild letter.

This is what he thinks he is reporting on:-
"a specific allegation of wrongdoing - indeed possible law-breaking - against the man holding the most sensitive post in the shadow cabinet outside of the leader."
He goes on:
"that he solicited a donation to the Conservatives from a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, and talked about ways to secretly channel that donation to the party, on the face of it could have put him in breach of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000."

Trouble is, this is not what Rothschild alleged at all (even if you were to accept Rothschild's version without question). The worst allegation made by Rothschild - in terms of soliciting is that Osborne went "on to Mr. Deripaska's boat to solicit a donation." - and the witness statement he produces to back up his claim apparently acknowledges that no substantial conversation on the subject actually took place. The best he can offer is that "Mr Goodwin recalls that the subject of a donation by Mr Deripaska’s UK company also arose briefly while we were on the boat, but the conversation gained no traction".

So, absent an actual conversation on the subject between the Russian and George it would appear that the worst offence was to discuss a donation - principally (it appears) with Rothschild himself.

Worse still, Mawhinney introduces the idea that Osborne in some way sought to "conceal" a donation - which is an offence. Mawhinney's ill thought out blog entry is the first allegation we have seen that Osborne was attempting to do something in secret. Had Leyland (a famous UK company after all) made a donation (and they did not, it was turned down) there is no suggestion whatever, from anyone, that it would have been done in secret and - of course - Oleg's ownership of the company is a matter of public record.

So the question we must ask ourselves is why, when defending his reporters against allegations of bias, does Mawhinney put pen to paper and make a further totally unfounded and quite possibly libelous accusation against Osborne? Does this organisation's arrogance and stupidity really know no bounds?

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